After Morris, Bucs Need Upgrade at Short, Center

I figured I’d wait to dissect Matt Morris’ first start until the off day. It gave me a bit of time to re-watch the game on MLB.TV and read a little more about Morris’ history. Anyway, that’s the goal this morning: To take a look at Saturday’s outing and make an extremely early determination of whether or not that $14 million investment in a 33-year-old righty who pitches to contact was a wise move. If...

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Rain 1, Indians 2, Tides 2 ?

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Brian Bixler -- photo by NancyZ
The Rain was the winner tonight, twice delaying the game between the Indianapolis Indians and the Norfolk Tides at Harbor Park in Norfolk, Virginia. The first delay, in the first inning, lasted for 51 minutes. Another delay in the 8th inning, lasted for about 30 minutes before the game was called, shortly before 10 pm eastern time. The game will remain a tie, and won’t be resumed.
The Indianapolis Indians jumped right into it in the top of the first inning. SS Brian Bixler (photo) walked, and promptly stole second base. LF Yurendell de Caster lined a single into right field, which scored Bixler, and made that stolen base look very good. Two ground outs ended the inning.
The bottom of the 1st brought Tribe starter Bryan Bullington out to the mound, to face lead off batter CF Tike Redman. Redman walked, and RF Val Majewski came to the plate, and fouled off Bullington’s first pitch. Then a bolt of lightning and a simultaneous boom of thunder — and the rain came pouring down.
Bryan Bullington -- photo by NancyZ
(51 minutes later….)
When the game resumed, Bryan Bullington (photo) returned to the mound, and continued where he left off. He had only thrown 6 pitches before the break, and apparently the feeling was that he would be able to continue after another warm-up. Bullington walked Majewski, but then ran into some good luck as the Tides had the first of three basepath blunders. 1B J.R. House fired a liner right to Tribe SS Luis Ordaz, who threw to 2B Brian Bixler, doubling Tike Redman off second base for a double play. A fielder’s choice grounder ended the inning.
Bullington pitched 5 scoreless innings, giving up only 3 hits and walking 4 batters, while striking out two. He threw 81 pitches (75 after the rain delay), 45 for strikes. A single by DH Mike Cervenak in the 4th inning was erased when LF Jon Knott grounded into a double play, 3B Russ Johnson to 2B Brian Bixler to 1B Jose Hernandez. The bottom of the 5th brought another base running problem for the Tides. With one out, 2B Bo Hart smacked a ground-rule double that bounced over the center field wall, and SS Cesar Crespo singled, moving Hart to third base. But Crespo was thrown out trying to steal second, on a right-on-target throw from C David Parrish to 2B Brian Bixler, and a fly out by Tike Redman ended the inning.

David Parrish -- photo by NancyZ
Norfolk starter Garrett Olson did not return to the mound after the 1st inning rain delay. Instead, the Tides had to go to a reliever-a-thon. Tim Kester entered the game, and pitched 4 innings for the Tide, scattering 4 hits and striking out three. He gave up one unearned run, in the top of the 5th inning. With one out, Luis Ordaz lined a double to left field, and then advanced to third base on a passed ball by Tides’ C Alberto Castillo. An RBI single by David Parrish (photo) brought in Ordaz for the Indians’ second run of the game. Parrish stole second base, his first steal of the season with the Tribe, but he was left there on second as the inning ended.
Reliever Jim Miller took over for Kester, and pitched the next two scoreless innings. Miller gave up only one hit, a line drive double to left field by Russ Johnson, for his second hit of the game. Victor Moreno was next to take his turn, and he pitched the 8th inning for the Tide. He gave up a single to Brian Bixler, but Bixler was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double, and Moreno retired the side.
Jesse Chavez -- photo by NancyZ
After Bryan Bullington pitched his 5 innings, reliever Jesse Chavez (photo) came in to start the bottom of the 6th inning. That was when the Tides had their third baserunning problem. With one out, J.R. House and Mike Cervenak hit back-to-back singles. The first pitch to Jon Knott bounced in the dirt, and House took off for third base. But the ball bounced right to C David Parrish’s bare hand, and Parrish fired down to second base, with House caught between second and third. House was caught in a fast run down, and was out: Parrish to Bixler to Johnson to Bixler (2-4-5-4). Cervenak didn’t even have time to move from first base, and the inning ended with a ground out.
As the rain, which had resumed a few innings earlier, began coming down even more heavily, the Tides were able to tie up the score in the 7th inning. Jesse Chavez struck out 3B Terry Tiffee to start the inning, but then gave up a single to Alberto Castillo, and an RBI triple to Bo Hart, scoring Castillo. Juan Perez came in to replace Chavez, and Perez struck out Cesar Crespo, before giving up a liner into center field to Tike Redman, for an RBI single that brought in Hart. Redman stole second and Val Majewski walked, but then Perez got J.R. House to fly out and keep the score tied, 2-2.
Brian Bixler, Luis Ordaz, Brad Eldred -- photo by NancyZ
(photo: Brian Bixler, Luis Ordaz, and Brad Eldred)
At this point, the rain was getting very heavy, and the players seemed to hesitate coming out of the dugouts to begin the 8th inning, as if anticipating another rain delay. They did play the top of the 8th, but as Indians’ reliever Runelvys Hernandez came to the mound and started his warm-ups to begin the bottom of the 8th, the rain was coming down harder than it had been during the earlier rain delay. Play was again halted by the umpires.
About a half hour later, the announcement was made saying that the game had been called. Because it was already into the 8th inning (as opposed to in the first 5 innings when it wasn’t even an “official” game yet) and the score was tied, and because this was the last scheduled meeting between Norfolk and Indianapolis for the season, the game will be stay as a tie, and will not be counted toward the two teams’ standings in their respective International League divisions. All players’ records (hits, RBI’s, steals, etc.) will be counted towards their season’s totals. If the game had been called before it was an official game, then all those at-bats, hits, strikeouts, etc., would have vanished.
No pitcher got either a win or loss, though because of the tie, neither starting pitcher would have gotten credit for a win or been charged with a loss. Jesse Chavez was credited with a “hold”, and Juan Perez was charged with his second blown save. The Indians put up 7 hits, with RUss Johnson leading the attack with a single and a double. Steve Pearce and Luis Ordaz also doubled, and Brian Bixler, Yurendell de Caster, David Parrish had singles.
Indians’ hitting gem of the game: David Parrish’s RBI single in the 5th inning to bring in the Tribe’s second run of the game.
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: In the 6th inning, David Parrish handled a pitch in the dirt, barehanding it and firing it to Brian Bixler at second base, to start a run-down, Parrish to Bixler to Johnson to Bixler, to get out J.R. House, who had gotten too excited and started running for third when he saw that pitch in the dirt.
NOTES:
With his double tonight, Luis Ordaz has a 7-game hitting streak.
Dejan Kovacevic in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that OF Nyjer Morgan, who has been rehabbing his broken thumb, could be “back on the field” this week — not clear if that means back for fielding and batting practice or back for playing in games, though I think it’s the former.
The Indians have an off-day tomorrow, as they fly back from Norfolk and then take a bus south to Louisville.
Go Tribe!

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Game #109 vs. Cincinnati

PNC Park | 1:35 | Gorzelanny vs. Bronson Arroyo | Box Rained out. To be made up as part of a doubleheader on 8/28. This saves the Bucs from being swept by the lowly Redlegs. Pre-game Thoughts Everybody knows about Bronson Arroyo. Guitar player. Long blonde hair. Tall, lanky. At the top of his delivery he pauses briefly on one leg, giving him the most graceful looking windup in all of baseball. Not that something like that counts for...

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I Appreciate Barry Bonds

A night after Barry Bonds reached the top of the all-time home run list and a week before he plays what could be his final two games in Pittsburgh, I figured I’d dig a post out of the archives and pay tribute to a former Pirate… Barry was here when Pittsburgh last experienced baseball glory; when the Bucs were the class of the National League in the early 1990s, it was Barry who made the team go. He was the last in a long...

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Munoz and Ryan Lead the Tribe Over the Tide

boxscore (photos by NancyZ)
Indians’ left fielder Michael Ryan hit 2 home runs in the month of May and 2 more in June. Then he exploded with 10 home runs in July. Tonight he started in on the count for August, with a monster homer over the Norfolk bullpen in the 3rd inning, for his 15th homer of the season, to spark the Indians’ scoring, as the Indians beat the Norfolk Tides 3-1 at Harbor Park in Norfolk, Virginia.
?I had a good change-up to swing at in my first at-bat, so I was looking for it again in my second,” said Ryan in a post-game interview. “I got one up in the zone and was able to take it out for a home run.? Ryan’s improvement at the plate has been reflected in his overall batting average too, which went up 25 points from June to July, and
is up more than 30 points from before the All-Star break to after the All-Star break. His OBP is up over 35 points, and his SLG is up from .420 to .655. He credits his hitting coach, Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens for his assistance in this upward trend. “‘Bam Bam’ has really helped me with my approach. I have gained some offensive confidence and it is showing on the field.?
Luis Munoz  -- photo by NancyZ
The game started off with the Tides seemingly ready to give away a run to the Indians. In the top of the 1st inning, Tides’ starter, right hander Andy Mitchell, had put down the first two Tribe batters, when LF Michael Ryan reached base on a fielding error by Norfolk 1B Jon Knott. A wild pitch moved Ryan into scoring position at second base, but Mitchell got 1B Steve Pearce to strike out to end the inning.
The Indians did give away a run in the bottom of the 1st inning. Tribe starter Luis Munoz (photo), just today put back on the active roster, gave up a single to lead-off batter CF Tike Redman, and then got the next two batters to fly out. Redman stole second base, and moved to third base when Tribe C David Parrish’s throw to second base went into centerfield. Redman headed for home when CF Luis Matos’s throw to third base sailed into the Indians’ visiting team dugout.
That unearned run was the only run the Tides would score. Luis Munoz earned his second win with the Indians, as he gave up 7 hits and a walk scattered over 6.1 innings, while striking out 5 Norfolk batters. One of the hits, to Jon Knott, was a double, and the rest were singles. Knott had 2 hits, and Tike Redman had 3 hits and 2 stolen bases. The biggest threat Munoz faced after the first inning came in the 6th inning, when 3B Terry Tiffee and Jon Knott both singled. Munoz struck out LF Val Majewski to end the inning and the threat.

Juan Perez -- photo by NancyZ
Reliever Juan Perez (photo) took over for Luis Munoz in the 7th inning. Munoz got one out and then gave up a single to former Indianapolis Indian (2005) SS Cesar Crespo. With left-handed batter Tike Redman coming to the plate, the lefty Perez entered the game. Perez got Redman to ground into a double play to end the inning. Perez also pitched the 8th inning for the Tribe, walking one and striking out two batters. Bret Prinz pitched the 9th inning to earn his second save. He walked one and gave up a single to Crespo, but didn’t allow a run to score.
The Indians got onto the scoreboard in the 3rd inning. With two out, Michael Ryan blasted his team-leading 15th homer to tie the game at 1-1. 1B Steve Pearce followed the homer with a line drive single, and 3B Jose Hernandez smashed a triple to the wall in right field, scoring Pearce with the go-ahead run.
Brad Eldred -- photo by NancyZ
The Tribe added an insurance run in the 5th inning. 2B Don Kelly hit the Tribe’s second triple of the game to lead off the inning. SS Brian Bixler struck out, and LF Michael Ryan was intentionally walked. Steve Pearce lined out to left field, and then Jose Hernandez also walked to load the bases. RF Brad Eldred (photo) slapped an RBI single to second base, bringing in Kelly. Michael Ryan rounded third base and headed for home, but Tides’ 2B Bo Hart fielded the ball and fired it home where C J.R. House tagged out Ryan, for the third out.
Reliever Steve Green entered the game to pitch the 7th inning for Norfolk. He allowed the Indians 2 hits and a walk, singles by Brian Bixler, who also stole second base, then a walk to Michael Ryan, and another single to Steve Pearce to load the bases with one out. But then Jose Hernandez grounded into a double play and the inning was over.
Francis Beltran pitched the last two innings for the Tides, giving up a single to CF Luis Matos in the 8th, and a single to Brian Bixler in the 9th. Bixler again stole second base, his 25th stolen base of the season. Bixler and Steven Pearce each had two hits for the Indians in the game. Andy Mitchell took the loss, his 7th of the season, for Norfolk.
Jose Hernandez -- photo by NancyZ
Indians’ hitting gems of the game: Michael Ryan’s home run blast, plus two triples, by Don Kelly and Jose Hernandez (photo).
Indians’ defensive gem of the game: The game-ending play: with Bo Hart on third base and Cesar Crespo on first base, with two out, Tike Redman grounded a tricky hop to third base. Jose Hernandez fielded the trickster, and fired to Don Kelly at second base, just in time to force out Crespo, and end the game without allowing the run to score.
NOTES:
Roster moves:
Indians’ closer Franquelis Osoria was called up to the Pirates.
Luis Munoz was reassigned from Altoona — though he had been “in Altoona” only on paper, as it was planned for him to start tonight’s game for the Tribe.
Reliever Jonah Bayliss was optioned back from the Pirates to the Indians.
Humberto Cota -- photo by NancyZ
Injury report: C Humberto Cota (photo), who has been on the DL with a left shoulder injury, will be having surgery on that shoulder, ending his season.
Other promotions:
RHP Todd Redmond has been promoted from Lynchburg (A) to Altoona (AA). Redmond had a 7-8 record with a 4.54 ERA in 20 starts in Lynchburg.
LHP Daniel Moskos, the Pirates’ 2007 first-round draft pick, has been promoted from the GCL Pirates to the State College Spikes (A – short season). Moskos appeared in two games for the GCL Pirates, where he threw 3 innings, giving up no runs, with 5 strikeouts.
Go Tribe!

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Game #108 vs. Cincinnati

PNC Park | 7:05 | Morris vs. Bobby Livingston | Box As Brian pointed out in the comments, it wasn’t Harang. He was scratched due to problems with his back. Instead it was Bobby Livingston and he pitched pretty well. But the real story is Matt Morris’ Bucco debut. That and how many times the Pirates can blow late inning leads. First things first. Morris staked himself to an early lead with a solo homer in his first at bat...

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